Q&A on the ELD Mandate with Fred Fakkema, Vice President of Compliance at Zonar
The ELD mandate represents significant changes to how hours of service logs are managed. How has Zonar positioned itself to help fleets during one of the most significant logistics technology changes in years?
Zonar has positioned itself to be the leading ELD provider by participating in the conversation and development of the mandate, employing compliance experts and developing technology that is based on an open source platform designed to be customizable and as future proof as possible. Additionally, Zonar provides a solution that stretches beyond just a compliant Hours of Service (HOS) product. Zonar works hard to become a trusted partner of its customers and helps them achieve greater return on investment including enhanced safety, increased uptime for trucks, decreased fuel costs and improved reporting accuracy.
What offerings have you developed for the mandate?
Zonar has products and services that are ELD-ready and are constantly being updated to meet the evolving market. Refinement will come on the software side so that the device will work with the web services applications that FMCSA is still working on. They are still developing the web services application and eRODS software program that will enable law enforcement to review a driver’s hours of service record when transferred via one of the transfer methods. For these reasons, it is unlikely that vendors that rushed to "self-certify" will meet all of the certification requirements. The ELD devices currently listed on FMSCA's website as self-certified have started to receive closer scrutiny by FMSCA. The larger and more trusted companies, like Zonar, are being more cautious in their approach because of the repercussions at stake. Our reputation is on the line and won’t jump the gun by rushing to self-certify until both we and the FMSCA are ready.
That said, we are "ELD-ready" today, which means we know and understand the final ELD rule and can make the necessary software tweaks when needed. We will be ELD compliant well before the December 2017 deadline.
What offerings are targeted at mandate compliance?
The ELD mandate represents a significant impact on the trucking industry which has naturally led to a number of providers jumping in the game. Applicable to fleets of all vehicle types, this innovative platform works inside and outside the cab to provide your drivers with valuable productivity tools.
Connect's ZLogs® is the most driver-friendly solution available for U.S. DOT Hours-of-Service (HOS) compliance. Drivers utilize Connect to view available hours, update duty status, and electronically submit service records. Visual alerts help your drivers manage driving time and immediate access to data helps you improve CSA scores.
Also included on Connect is the patented Electronic Verified Inspection Report (EVIR®) which replaces traditional, error-prone paper-based inspections with an automated process that instantly provides inspection results for improved compliance and maintenance efficiency. EVIR is the only verified visual electronic inspection option. Drivers scan RFID tags at each zone, mark the condition of components, and send photos of any defects.
Connect includes advanced commercial navigation. Commercial navigation helps drivers save time and fuel with turn-by-turn directions specific to commercial vehicle types, real-time traffic and load assignment mapping. Your drivers increase safety with text-to-speech functionality, highway sign information, lane indicator arrows, speed limit warnings, and "turn after" commands. Lastly, the Connect has two-way and forms-based messaging. It makes dispatch-to-driver communication easier than ever before. Send free-form messages or utilize ZForms™—a forms-based messaging tool—to replace paper forms, share route dispatch assignments and gain operational efficiency. Connect also uses text-to-speech functionality so that drivers can listen to messages with minimal distraction while on the road, meeting both state laws and federal regulatory compliance.
From what you've seen, are fleets generally prepared for this change just now? Or do they have more of a "we have two years to get this done" mindset?
Since the mandate became final, the most progressive fleets have recognized that not only is the mandate almost assuredly going to go into effect despite a handful of lawsuits but there will be a need to start the process of change management early so that when the mandate goes into effect, fleets experience minimal hiccups. That said, other fleets are embracing more of a wait and see approach but are taking note of the portion the mandate that indicates that if you have an AOBRD certified device installed on a vehicle before December 2017, your truck will not need to be ELD compliant for an additional two years. Both approaches have merits and are very fleet specific. Zonar's Connect is AOBRD certified and ELD-ready allowing customers to be prepared for either.
Fleets, especially larger ones, welcome the new regulation because of its benefits so they are moving forward at a quicker pace. Paperless logs mean that drivers' records will be legible and accurate. Crashes will be documented with speed, along with braking and acceleration data. Drivers will spend more time on the road, no longer filling out paper logs and cutting down time spent presenting their log book to inspectors.
Although it's early days, going forward do you feel that your company will have the scope to offer add-on products and services with the bog-standard ELD devices? If so, what kind of products/services might we expect to see?
Zonar currently has an AORBD compliant device that is ELD ready for when the FMCSA has the Webservices and eROD software complete. Additional products and services from Zonar range from maintenance to track and trace software as well as software to manage business efficiencies to fuel efficiencies; to ridership visibility solutions and other ridership solutions. Our award-winning platform keeps fleet owners and managers connected to their fleets and drivers to dispatchers.
Zonar's solutions are innovative while remaining affordable by design. We provide what many have come to know as a traditional telematics platform, but our telematics data is only the beginning of Zonar's keys to streamlining your fleet management. From our patented Electronic Verified Inspection Report (EVIR®) system that revolutionizes how drivers conduct pre- and post-trip inspections, to Connect – the industry's most versatile mobile telematics device, to our Ground Traffic Control fleet tracking software, to our revolutionary ZFuel fuel tracking application, with Zonar, you can be confident that we have poured our personal, professional and business investment into each solution to ensure your success. We are much more than a one stop ELD shop.
Estimates indicate that 2 log books are kept by 17% of the trucking sector. Now, with complete transparency on driving hours, what will a limited hours of service mean for productivity, drivers' lifestyles and the way that routes are planned?
The FMCSA estimates a $2.4 billion worth of paperwork savings, 77 percent of which will come from the driver's time saved completing and submitting logs. That said, there will be some loss of productivity, but that productivity may have been due to ill-gotten productivity from exceeding hours of service requirements and potentially operating a truck unsafely. The goal of the ELD mandate is to keep our roads safer so there will be some natural hiccups for those who focus solely on productivity. However, long-term productivity will continue to increase because the increased safety with the mandate ensuring that HOS regulations are met will lead to increased uptime and less maintenance of vehicles.
The mandate will require drivers to operate differently. This change will cause a decrease in productivity as all involved learn the new technology and accept the change. Certainly, the 17% maintaining 2 log books will either choose not to comply or leave the industry. We have seen a survey that indicated 16% would not install ELD and/or leave the industry.
With the ELD mandate increased productivity will come due to drivers ELD's acting as a management device that they can utilize for planning and more efficient operations within the hours of service requirements. And lets not forget that the point of the ELD Mandate is to increase safety. It is of the utmost priority for us to keep our roads safe. Keeping within the HOS regulations helps ensure vehicle uptime with fewer maintenance requirements and less on road incidents leading to downtime.
It has taken quite some time to draft and finalize the mandate in its current form. Do you feel it is robust enough to be in place for some time going forward into the future?
Yes, but we believe there will be further guidance and changes as we move forward. A lot of time and diligence was put into the drafting of the ELD Mandate. Likely any mandate of its nature, it will be subject to augmentations over time, but the core of the mandate is sound and should be in place going into the future.